The Best Degrees For Earning A 6-Figure Salary

Many professionals and graduates initially dream of landing a career with a 6-figure salary. The opportunities are limitless and often come with financial abundance and prosperity. This alone makes 6-figure careers highly desirable. Now, you may have asked yourself the proverbial question “Is it really possible to earn a 6-figure salary?”

Best Degrees 6-Figure Salary - fact

Like other aspects of one’s professional life, enthusiasm, patience, and a lot of grit are often the key. Here, we curate some of the best academic degrees for earning 6-figure salaries:

Human Resource Management

Estimated Annual Income: $121,220

Degree Level:

  • Master’s Degree
  • Bachelor’s Degree

Nearly almost all industries require the expertise of the human resource department to streamline the different processes involving the needs of every employee. Human Resource Management sets the tone for the whole human resources team. From compliances issues to employee perks and benefits to career retention, the HR team will make sure that the organization or company operates smoothly and effectively.

To become HR managers, graduates must have a combination of several years of professional experience in the field and education. Although they can find career opportunities with a baccalaureate program, some employers require HR Managers to have a graduate degree. While certification is optional, candidates have the option to boost their credentials through industry certification. Here are some of the certifications that are highly preferred by companies in the HR field:

With more than $100,000 median annual income, pursuing a degree in Human Resource Management is one of the best degrees for earning 6-figure salaries. Approximately 10% of these professionals can have earnings as high as $208,000+. The top industry for hiring HR Managers is professional, scientific, and technical services.


Finance

Estimated Annual Income: $134,180

Degree Level:

  • Master’s Degree

Finance Management is a crucial activity for any type of business or organization. The entire process involves planning, controlling, overseeing, and organizing financial resources to achieve organizational objectives and goals. Given that it is an essential aspect to help business owners know if they are making profits, Financial Management is one of the important elements to success.

Similar to HR Managers, Financial Managers require a combination of relevant professional experience and a baccalaureate degree in business, accounting, finance, or economics. To demonstrate their proficiencies, these professionals often start as financial analysts, sales agents, accountants, labor relations specialists, or loan officers.

A profession with a combination of more than $100,000 median annual wage and a 17% job outlook makes a Financial Management degree one of the best degrees for earning a 6-figure salary. Increased demand for risk management proficiencies in the financial sector is becoming more popular. Banking institutions and other financial organizations are expected to focus more on managing risk over profits and stability, resulting in employment growth for Financial Managers.

With a master’s degree in Finance, students will have a comprehensive, high-level understanding of finance. Through the program, they will discover a variety of ways and techniques to relay complex financial ideas to management, acquire critical thinking skills to resolve financial obstacles, and obtain in-demand technical aptitudes.


Health Management

Estimated Annual Income: $104,280

Degree Level:

  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Master’s Degree

For candidates wanting to pursue a profession in the healthcare industry but who don’t necessarily want to handle immediate patient care, choosing a career in the Health Management field is an excellent alternative. As the aging population is on the rise, the demand for quality healthcare services is expected to rise. To address the need, physicians and other healthcare workers, healthcare policies and procedures, and healthcare institutions are highly desired. Therefore, there will also be greater demand for professionals overseeing and organizing healthcare staff and medical records.

Completing a baccalaureate degree is required before entering the Health Management field. While some companies require a master’s degree, academic credentials will still vary by specific role and facility. Graduate programs in Health Management last between two to three years, with one year of supervised management experience in a healthcare consulting or hospital setting.

With a faster than average employment outlook, a Health Management degree is one of the best degrees for earning 6-figure salaries. The highest 10% of these professionals can earn as high as $195,000+ per year. Since healthcare practices and services are expanding and becoming more complex, the demand for medical group practice management is also expected to rise.


Dentistry

Estimated Annual Income: $164,010

Degree Level:

  • Doctorate or Professional Degree

Dentistry is the branch of the healing discipline that deals with the teeth and other structures of the oral cavity. Becoming a dentist deals with the study of preventing, diagnosing, and treating oral and gum diseases, including birth anomalies of the oral cavity, misalignment of teeth, and malformation of the jaws.

Working as a dentist requires state licensure in the state they work. Although licensure requirements differ by state, pursuing a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD), Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry, or Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) program and passing clinical and written examinations are the most common requirement. Dentists with a specialty area are also required to accomplish post-doctorate training. These types of dentists include the following but are not limited to:

  • Endodontist
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
  • Orthodontic
  • Pediatric Dentist
  • Periodontist
  • Prosthodontist

The wages of dentists depend on a variety of factors, including the number of years in practice, specialty, number of work hours, and location. However, these professionals earn a $100,000 median annual salary, making dentistry one of the best degrees for earning a 6-figure salary. The highest salaries of the profession are those who work as prosthodontists, accumulating more than $200,000 average salary per year. The government and office of dentists are the top facilities that pay above-average salaries for dentists.


Actuary

Estimated Annual Income: $111,030

Degree Level:

  • Bachelor’s Degree

Do you have an innate passion for numbers and possess mathematical abilities? Working as an Actuary is the perfect career path for you. These professionals handle complex calculations to identify the possibilities of different outcomes related to investments, consumer demands, illnesses, and other insurance-related components. They analyze the company’s financial uncertainties and costs of risk. Many Actuaries are employed within the insurance industry; however, they specialize in one area of the field, including the following:

  • Casualty and Property Insurance
  • Enterprise Risk Management
  • Health Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Public Sector
  • Retirement and Pension Benefits

Although the majority of Actuaries earn $111,000 per year on average, 10% of these professionals can earn as much as $200,000 annually. Combined with a 24% job outlook, the field of Actuary is one of the best degrees for earning a 6-figure salary that guarantees job stability. Due to the ever-changing and complex healthcare guidelines and regulations, several health insurance companies will require the expertise and skills of Actuaries to develop new products for new clients, expand their business into new markets, and evaluate large amounts of information to set competitive pricing for insurance policies.

Actuaries can also work in corporate offices and companies to help them manage their own risks, developing adjustments and methods to every organization’s business processes to ensure smooth and profitable operations.


Software Engineering

Estimated Annual Income: $110,140

Degree Level:

  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Master’s Degree

A list of the best degrees for earning 6-figure salaries wouldn’t be complete without Software Engineering. It is a multifaceted field that consists of tech professionals with different specializations, including database management, network administration, programming, and QA engineering. These professionals are responsible for the planning, developing, and implementation of software solutions across a variety of businesses.

Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in I.T., computer science, engineering, mathematics, or any related field is the first step towards the goal of earning 6-figure salaries in this field. However, individuals can accelerate their degree with a cheaper and more specialized option by enrolling in coding boot camps. Instead of pursuing traditional higher studies, Software Engineers become more proficient in upskilling through an actual work setting. Throughout their profession, they must keep up-to-date with the latest programming languages, tools, and technical practices to advance in their profession.

The top industries that offer lucrative salaries to Software Engineers include software publishers, manufacturing, and management of enterprises and companies. Graduates with a software engineering degree and at least five years of work experience can pursue more lucrative roles as Computer and Information Systems Managers, earning more than $150,000 annually.


Medicine

Estimated Annual Income: $208,000+

Degree Level:

  • Doctorate or Professional Degree

Since healthcare services are always needed, completing a medical degree is one of the best degrees for earning 6-figure incomes and guarantees a recession-proof career. Although no specific areas of discipline are required in completing a baccalaureate degree, candidates often have a degree in physical science, biology, chemistry, pharmacy, or other healthcare-related fields.

Apart from completing a baccalaureate program, Doctors and Surgeons must complete either a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine or a Medical Doctor accredited program. Depending on the specialty, they may have to accomplish three to nine years in residency and internship programs.

With an annual average income of more than $208,000, salaries for Doctors and Surgeons are among the highest compared to other occupations in the U.S. Anesthesiologists have the highest wage in the field, with almost $300,000 annual median wage followed by Surgeons.

The aging population is the #1 factor driving the demand for more physician services. As rates of illnesses increase, patients will seek high-quality levels of care using state-of-the-art and safe therapies, diagnostic examinations, medical equipment, and treatment plans. Apart from physicians and surgeons, the demand for nurse practitioners and physician assistants also increases as these professionals are essential in helping physicians perform a variety of roles and responsibilities.


Air Traffic Control/Air Traffic Management

Estimated Annual Income: $130,420

Degree Level:

  • Associate’s Degree

Pursuing a career in the aviation industry is a unique path for students looking for 6-figure salaries even without highly specialized studies. Becoming an Air Traffic Controller is an excellent option for individuals who don’t want to go through rigorous programs in the traditional learning setting. In exchange for helping pilots safely carry cargo and passengers in the sky, Air Traffic Controllers earn a whopping $130,000+ as starting annual salary. In some cases, these professionals can earn more than $184,780 per year. The federal government offers the highest wage for these professionals.

Although the academic credentials for starting as an Air Traffic Controller don’t necessarily require higher studies, these candidates invest more in specialized training and exams. In a nutshell, here is the traditional path to becoming an Air Traffic Controller:

  1. Be a citizen of the United States
  2. Pass medical evaluations, including several background checks and drug test/screening
  3. Pass the Federal Aviation Administration Pre-employment exam, including the Biographical Assessment
  4. Pass the ATSA or Air Traffic Controller Specialists Skills Assessment Battery
  5. Accomplish training at the FAA Academy at Oklahoma City

With a high school diploma or an associate degree combined with highly specialized training, individuals can become skilled Air Traffic Controllers and earn that 6-figure income.


Marketing

Estimated Annual Income: $141,490

Degree Level:

  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Master’s Degree

As many businesses continue to adapt to the changes brought by digitalization,  the importance of effective marketing has been highlighted at the forefront, especially now that many organizations and individuals are doing business online. The demand for professionals with a Marketing degree and/or expertise will continue to rise as more and more companies and businesses utilize a variety of traditional and digital marketing campaigns to expand and maintain their target audience.

Aspiring professionals in the field must have at least a baccalaureate degree in marketing, business, communications, or any related field. However, some individuals already have MBAs with a specialization in Marketing. In some advertising agencies, applicants are required to have a bachelor’s degree in journalism or advertising. Other supplemental courses include photography, graphic design, visual arts, consumer behavior, and market research.

With above-average earning potential, pursuing a Marketing-related degree is one of the best degrees for earning a 6-figure salary that also guarantees career stability. The rise of electronic media will depreciate the demand for print ads and media. However, the demand for digital marketing and media campaigns will continue to rise. Since most people prefer using social media, live chats, and online searches, social media marketers or digital marketers are in demand in the marketing field.


Engineering Management

Estimated Annual Income: $149,530

Degree Level:

  • Bachelor’s Degree

If you prefer overseeing architectural, construction, and engineering works and with significant professional experiences in the field, pursuing an Engineering Management degree is one of the best degrees for you. Apart from career stability, the profession will provide you with the opportunity to earn a 6-figure income.

Architectural and Engineering Managers must have at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering, architecture, or any related discipline. Before pursuing high-level positions in the field, they gain experience leading different teams that work on resolving problems, planning, and developing complex projects in the field of construction management. Some professionals also have a Master of Business Administration or a Master of Engineering Management to increase their chances of earning lucrative salaries. As a multidisciplinary field, Engineering Management programs include classes in industrial and human resource management, financial management, and engineering economics.

Engineering Management offers competitive salaries, with more than $100,000 median annual income. With a promising career outlook, the demand for these professionals is expected to rise since many aging infrastructures in the country require repair, expansion, and innovation. For sustainability and renewable energy projects, electrical and mechanical engineering services are needed in the expansion of solar energy systems, wind turbine farms, and other renewable energy sources.

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Key Takeaways

  • Here’s why it’s possible for graduates to earn a 6-figure salary.

Pursuing graduate studies will easily land you in some of the country’s most lucrative-paying careers. It’s also possible that you must network with other people who can help you achieve that goal. Either way, your efforts will certainly pay off, especially if you are passionate about what you’re pursuing.

To most people, earning 6-figure salaries is the benchmark of their professional career. However, some states in the country have 6-figure salaries as the standard. Regardless, it is still considered an impressive professional achievement for many people. Earning 6-figure wages has benefits for you and your family. Apart from easing out financial challenges, it also brings peace of mind, especially if you have a number of financial obligations to settle. With lucrative salaries, you can easily pay off debts in a shorter period. Having a comfortable living or lifestyle, and financial security are also some of the perks being enjoyed by professionals with a 6-figure income.

  • A Master’s Degree for A 6-Figure Paycheck?

According to the Occupation Finder of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 142 out of 790 occupations that were listed have a median annual wage of $100,000 or more, with 68 of them requiring a bachelor’s degree as the entry-level education. The rest of the occupations require a master’s, doctorate, or professional degree.

Other contributing factors also affect an individual’s potential to earn a 6-figure income. Some of the lucrative professions emphasize continuous advancement or training and high technical expertise. These professions are often found in the I.T., engineering, and healthcare sectors.

Careers from the aviation industry, including Commercial and Airline Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers, are some of the exceptions when it comes to entry-level requirements that involve traditional academic degrees. Instead of pursuing a baccalaureate or master’s program, they enroll in specialized training and continuous upskilling.

Length of experience also contributes to the individual’s ability to earn 6-figure salaries. Many of them already have professional-level roles, with “director” or “manager” in their designations. Before earning 6-figure wages, they have gone through a lot of professional training, education, and experience. It definitely will take years of experience and patience to land in lucrative-paying professions. Most employees will have to grind and work their way up the corporate ladder.

Lucrative salaries are definitely achievable. To earn them, students must have a solid academic foundation, relevant professional experience, proficiency in a particular skillset, in-demand academic degree, or combination of any. While some professions require an undergraduate degree, others will only require advanced study or technical certification. Depending on students’ career objectives, they may need to pursue specialized studies. Regardless, students will require some grit, patience, and passion before achieving it.